‘ Grounded ‘ has a very clear reference, almost instantaneous for anyone who was a child in the eighties or nineties (that is, almost all players): ‘Honey, I have shrunk the children’. ‘Grounded’: Xbox’s miniature survival game become one of the cult games of the year. As in the mythical Disney movie starring Rick Moranis, a group of kids are accidentally reduced in size to the dimensions of an insect. Crossing the garden thus becomes a true odyssey, and even the most innocent and everyday objects become deadly traps.
Behind this idea with so much potential and focus-able in numerous ways (it can be both a platform adventure and a survival horror , going through the genre that ‘Grounded’ has chosen: a survival game) is Obsidian . The prestigious North American study thus departs from more serious approaches that other works have had , such as the recent ‘Pillars of Eternity’ or ‘The Outer Worlds’, and face a more carefree and fast-paced adventure.
Acquired by Microsoft since 2018, Obsidian have often agreed to develop sequels to third-party hits. The examples are countless: ‘KOTOR 2’, ‘Never-winter Nights 2’, ‘Fallout New Vegas’, ‘South Park: The Stick of Truth’ and many others. Here, however, they face a project of their own after signing the sequel to their own ‘Pillars of Eternity’, which was already in development during the purchase of Microsoft. As a consequence of the transaction, ‘Grounded’ became an Xbox exclusive and was announced on X019 , less than a year ago. Its launch, on July 28, is a beta (it has appeared in Early Access on Steam and Xbox Game Preview) that, according to Obsidian, only contains a fifth of the game.
Why a million people are playing ‘Grounded’
Grounded can be played in first or third person, both in campaign and cooperative mode for up to four players. The goal is to survive in a yard that has suddenly grown to gigantic proportions. You have to watch provisions to avoid dehydration or starvation, and the main dangers the player will encounter will be insects: spiders, ants, bees and even praying mantises . They will have various functions, from serving as enemies (it is not difficult to suspect which is the role) to help, even if unintentionally, the player. For example, ladybugs lead to food, and there are tiny insects that, in the eyes of the scrupulous, in turn serve as food.
In the style of the first survivalist incarnation of ‘ Fortnite ‘, players will have to build forts to spend the night and reduce dangers, as insects become more aggressive (even ants, which in principle adopt a passive attitude if they are not attacked). Weapons, traps, the inevitable bows and arrows can be built … the result has been compared to another cult survival game, ‘ Subnautica ‘, albeit in a somewhat rockier environment.
But … why is everyone talking about ‘Grounded’? Although nobody in Obsidian denies that the game is half cooked, the truth is that this previous version has a generous mapping (to which it is easy to find limits that are “under construction”, yes) and with a good amount of hours to invest in exploration and crafting. The method is laborious but fun: the materials found will have to be passed through a scanner, after which research points will be obtained, which will make it possible to build . But the scanning stations have a limit of continuous use, and the refresh rate will have to be allowed to renew.
Building is fun because it allows you to plan how to do it. Choose an object to build (a bed, for example), and reserve the place where it will be located. And there, elements of that object are added as they are available, which allows planning space and resources with ease. But, in addition to this unique construction methodology, it is undoubtedly the structure of the mapping and the astonishing number of hidden areas that players are discovering what plays in favor of ‘Grounded’, fostering the cult game label that little by little is being won.
In this way, as our Extra Life companions affirmed , the variety of biomes and heights on the map means that, although there is only one environment to explore, it does not become repetitive . As a sample, one of those areas that we mentioned that the most seasoned explorers had found: nothing less than a miniature laboratory with its own secret mission and that suggests that the game’s plot still has many secrets to unfold.
It is the ingenuity in the overall design that gives the game a very recognizable and distinctive finishing touch. The idea of turning monstrous everyday elements into monstrous obstacles (a can and the puddle that has left its spilled interior , now a lake) and the design of the nights and the challenges posed by survival in the dark samples of how well planned the adventure is. Despite some problems with the AI of the bugs and occasional bugs (of the others), the game points ways, and more considering that they have been programmed by only 13 people. We will continue to pay close attention to the miniature summer that this ingenious mini-survival promises.